A Letter to my Newborn Son

I meant to write you on the day you were born, which was 8 days ago, but, as you can imagine, that turned out to be a rather busy day. So, please excuse the slight delay.

I just felt it was important to get the basic details down before they become a blur of snippets a few years from now.

They say that only 5% of women manage to give birth to their firstborn on their exact due date. (I say ‘they’ but it was actually the words of only one midwife we conversed with during baby class).

So when your due date was about to roll up, I didn’t think too much of it. Your mom was feeling fine the day before and there was no clear sign that you were about to pop out on the scheduled date.

So come Thursday early morning, I was enjoying a particularly good deep sleep. The kind where your eyes are heavily sealed shut and the dreams are vivid and oh-so-real.

Nevertheless, I half-woke in the middle of the night to check the time (as I often did, to check how much more time of blissful sleep I had left before my alarm went off), and it was 4:30 am. I still had a good 2 hours before wake-up time. I could easily fall right back to sleep and carry on where I left off.

But then your mom started fidgeting. Like, more than normal. This didn’t sound like the usual shifting around of trying to find a comfortable position to lie in, due to a belly bursting of an expectant baby.

Inside my half-sleeping state, I was wondering if I’d manage to get back to the delights of dreamland, or if this would be the day of your coming after all.

To my surprise, I was not going back to sleep anytime soon. Come 5:30 am, your mom confirmed that this was it. The contractions were coming in at every 10 minutes by then. When they were to reach a 5-minute cycle, we were to be making our way to the hospital; your grand place of birth.

I wasn’t sure what to feel at that point. I was too worried to be excited. I simply wanted everything to go smoothly and for you and your mom to survive this day in the best possible manner.

But I hid any worries I had, for my job on that day was to be a pillar of support for her in every conceivable manner; and to see you come through safe and sound.

So with my dad in tow (that’s grandad to you) a suitcase of supplies and an Uber for transport, off we went.

Our lives would never be the same after this day.

I won’t bore you with too many details of the labor procedure, except to point out that the pain was tough on your mom at first, but to our relief, once she received the epidural to numb the pains, it was smooth-sailing from there on. You came into the world of light at 12:53 pm with the smallest of cries.

I didn’t wish to have a front row seat to the show, but I still witnessed your little head surfacing outwards whilst standing by your mother’s side.

To say that it was a surreal thing to see would be an understatement.

It’s hard to imagine that delivery doctors and midwives see the birth of life as part of their everyday job. Whereas for me, experiencing it first-hand, was an event I will never forget.

Now, I won’t lie, but you were not the prettiest little thing I’d ever seen in those first moments when you surfaced. Your body looked like that of a little alien but with a face of a tired old man who may have spent years working in a labor camp. (Spoiler Alert: you turned out real freakin’ cute later on! We already have way too many pictures to confirm this).

Nevertheless, as I watched you in your bassinet straight after delivery, your beady little eyes adjusting to the light and your surroundings, I was instantly overcome with overwhelming paternal joy. I couldn’t believe that I was staring at a baby that was my very own son; whilst glancing over to your mother and sharing the same feeling of awe of your mere presence.

I was aching for that first touch but couldn’t decide if I should wiggle your little toe, your little hand or stroke your fragile little head that was already full of hair.

I simply ended up gazing at you instead until one of the midwives handed you over for a father-son cuddle; after your mom held you for a good while herself, of course.

As I held you, oh so gently, I wanted to cry. In fact, I believe I was tearing up (just a little), but kept myself in check, as I didn’t want one of the midwives to catch me being so overly sensitive. And yet, I wished I could just let go and cry to my heart’s content — for holding my son in my arms for the very first time was one of the best feelings I’d ever felt.

I’m pretty sure your mom shared the same emotions as me, for she was glowing and beaming with undeniable bliss. She didn’t even look like someone who had given birth to another human just moments ago!

Then we had your granddad come in, who was as eager to see you as much as us. You certainly made a bunch of people very happy the day you arrived.

We ended up staying two whole days and nights in the maternity ward. You kept us up for the most part, especially as we struggled to get you to breastfeed properly. To our dismay, the womb that was your home for 9 whole months did not provide you with a breastfeeding manual. And so those first two days were quite a challenge, to put it kindly.

Needless to say, we couldn’t wait to take you home and introduce you to our cozy familiar environment.

Your auntie and uncle accompanied us all back, who were also very excited to meet you. Unfortunately for them, you were fast asleep, and so they missed out on the chance to gaze into your pretty little baby eyes.

You gave us a tough time that very first evening; but it’s okay, we were at least comfortable dealing with it all from our very own bed. Plus, you mom and I made a good team, considering the mostly unknown territory we found ourselves in.

By day 5, however, we progressed to requiring just one person for nappy-changing. We were getting the hand of this parenting thing already.

By day 6, we gave you your very first bath. I’m going to assume you didn’t enjoy it so much, based solely on the screaming and crying display you gave us. But surely it will just be a matter of time before you start to love it.

So we’re quickly adjusting to our new lifestyle of being a family of three now. Although you don’t do much besides sleeping, feeding and going through an incredible amount of nappies each day, we wish you’d do more of the sleeping activity out of the three (for now at least! Until we catch up on some much needed Zzz’s).

At this point in time, your poor mom has turned into a milking factory to satisfy your ever-increasing insatiable appetite; much respect to her in this case, as she’s doing an admirable job for a first-time mother. Also, we’re both so sleep-deprived that it’s a wonder we’re still standing. People weren’t kidding when they said to make the most of our carefree and uninterrupted days of sleeping bliss.

But it’s fine, we don’t mind so much — because you’re totally worth it.

Like possibly every new proud parent on the planet, we can’t stop endlessly staring at you. You are just a bundle of cuteness, no matter what you’re doing — which isn’t much, to be fair.

Still, to look at you and know you as my son, a little human that depends on me and who I am completely responsible for, has made me feel even more of a grown-up than ever. And at 38 years of age, that’s saying something.

What’s more, seeing your mom in full maternal mode and how incredibly happy she is with you, is a truly beautiful thing to watch.

And so week 1 has so far been a challenging, emotional and exciting experience. Even a little scary. Mostly because you are so small and fragile that I can’t help worry about everything to do with you.

The first few nights I couldn’t help checking on you while you slept (still do, just not as often), in case you might have stopped breathing for whatever reason. Which is crazy because you are a strong and healthy little munchkin. The way I see it, if countless tiny little stray kittens can survive rough city streets, then you, my son, can survive your perfectly safe and warm little cot, no doubt.

I just need to keep reminding myself that you’re totally OK and I shouldn’t stress so much. (Easier said than done though).

I am so looking forward to seeing you grow right before my eyes.